About Stephen Hise

Stephen Hise is the Evil Mastermind and co-administrator of Indies Unlimited. Hise is an independent author and an avid supporter of the indie author movement. Learn more about Stephen at his website or his Amazon author page.

Genre Equality

word cloudIn NewsBites on Wednesday, one of the stories was about a petition to address gender labeling in books for children. The argument is that publishers should not assume that boys want one type of book and girls, another.

But of course, identifying the target market is a long-standing tradition in the publishing biz. The idea is to facilitate sales by helping consumers narrow the field to books which appeal to their particular areas of interest. As data collection and analysis have become more sophisticated, the numbers of genres and sub-genres have multiplied. Continue reading

NewsBites: Now for Boys AND Girls

NewsBitesLive, from Dead Penguin studios, in the beautiful and scenic Indies Unlimited Deathstar, we are proud to present NewsBites.

All around the globe, while hard-working indie authors slave away at their keyboards, stuff is happening. We track down that stuff, beat it up, and take its lunch money.

So, grab a beverage and warm up your grimaces. Here are some things that recently occurred:

In the Telegraph, Lynne Truss writes an article questioning whether people really have any right to be protected from spoilers. She states:

Does anyone else think that all this pandering to other people’s elective ignorance is turning a bit sinister and disproportionate? It isn’t yet an enshrined human right to be protected against spoilers, is it?

I won’t tell you how her article ends, but I will say that I found it irritating to learn that a few people had read the last page of my novel, Upgrade,  to see how it turned out before beginning to read it. That’s different. Such readers are spoiling it for themselves. I don’t know if it is a reasonable expectation, in a society that could not keep the Manhattan Project secret, to believe we can be protected from hearing about the endings of books we might read, or may be in the middle of reading. Maybe one way to deal with it is to write books that ends in mid-sentence. What are your thoughts?

The fluttering death spiral of the NOOK continues, but is Microsoft working on its own e-reader app that will use NOOK content?

Amazon is raising the cost of Prime membership:

The retailer told the 25 million members of its Amazon Prime program on Thursday that it was increasing the annual fee for the two-day shipping service by 25 percent, to $99. The new price takes effect on the renewal dates for existing customers, starting April 17.

Will this impact indies? Of course it will – everything does. Indie titles are already so under-priced that many authors make more money from a loan under the Prime program than from an outright sale.

If you are having trouble slogging through a huge TBR pile, you may be heartened by an app that can facilitate speed-reading up to 1,000 words a minute. Now maybe reviewers can get to your books more quickly.

If you are a children’s author, you might want to be sure your books are not aimed at a specific gender. Waterstones, a handful of publishers, and a few poets I never heard of are among the 3,000 signators of a petition calling on children’s publishers to “stop labelling books, in the title or on the packaging, as for girls or for boys:”

The campaign is attacking titles such as Usborne’s Illustrated Classics for Boys, described by the publisher as “a collection of stories of action, adventure and daring-do [sic] suitable for boys”, while its Illustrated Stories for Girls contains “brand new stories about mermaids, fairies, princesses and dolls”.

I find this interesting because one of the standard questions authors are always asked by publishers or agents is, “Who is the intended audience for your book?”  Now, we can just say, “It’s none of your damn business.”

It’s no secret that print industry profits are buoyed in large part by the sales of textbooks at a very high markup. Well, big ink’s gravy train is pulling into its last station as digital books are replacing expensive print textbooks.

What if you could sell your books directly through your social media? Ron Martinez, founder of Aerbook, believes his company represents a nexus between social media marketing and e-commerce.

That ability to sell directly to consumers via social media is key to Aerbook’s utility, Martinez said. When a Facebook or Twitter user clicks on an Aerbook link in his or her timeline, it opens the Aerbook Cloud Reader, which can be used to read a sample chapter (or the entire book if the publisher chooses), share the excerpt, download it, or buy the book outright. The Aerbook Cloud Reader can be viewed on laptops and mobile devices, and publishers can use it to sell print or digital books.

Finally, the seventh seal has been broken. Keith Richards is writing a book for children. I know, right? The book is entitled Gus and Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar. Megan Tingley from Little, Brown said, “We are excited to be bringing this vivid and moving story to children and families…”

Vivid and moving are not words I generally associate with Keith Richards. Oh well, move over, Snookie. The celebrities-as-authors boat is getting crowded.

That’s it for now. Join us next time, as we take a look at Franklin W. Dixon’s newly re-branded series, The Hardy Children’s Mysteries.

Series vs. Serials

What is the real difference between a series and a serial? Is one merely a subset of the other? Perhaps the difference is largely semantic. Or maybe the lines have blurred a bit.

I like to try to make the distinction that a series is a set of books with the same main character or characters, with each book representing a self-contained story. With a series, it doesn’t matter much whether you read the books in order. There is no over-arching story. Nothing carries from one book to the next. The characters may not even age. My favorite example of a series is the Doc Savage books. Continue reading

The Idea Graveyard

graveyardThe road to success is paved with the bones of failure. We try to keep things fresh here at Indies Unlimited by introducing new types of features from time to time.

Not all of these features catch on. Some do well at first, but sort of fizzle out as they go along. That’s the thing about innovation – you never know what’s going to work until you try it. Who would have guessed that putting sleeves on a blanket would make somebody a bazillionaire?

In the mean time, the makers of Jello have rejected all my ideas for meat and vegetable flavored gelatin. Come on! Who wouldn’t rather have their Brussels sprouts in a jiggly form served up in a dessert cup? Think, people! But, I digress…

Never discouraged, I have brought that same spirit of innovation and enterprise to Indies Unlimited. Sometimes my blog partner, K. S. “Kat” Brooks, is a bit more cautious.  She did, in fact, talk me out of “Indie Author Death Match.” Otherwise, we do tend agree on most everything else. But, as my father used to say, you can’t make an omelet without cracking a few heads. Not everything worked: Continue reading

NewsBites: News from the Indieverse

NewsBitesFriends, neighbors, fans, and fellow writers, it is time once again to gather ’round the smoldering tire-fire of Indieland whilst I regale you with tales of derring-do, tom-foolery, and other doings of note.

Tonight’s NewsBites contains SNARK™, a non-nutritive truth varnish used in the news distilling process to enhance the crunchiness and flavor of information. Now, from around the corner and across the globe, here is some stuff that happened: Continue reading